julia mejnertsen

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when the rains come (we will fear no more)

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copenhagen, denmark

dear all,

i've been neglecting you. i'm sorry!

after my last post in mid-october (!) i've returned to life in denmark. been busy with trying to figure out what to do next, but i have at the same time been working on a new project. well, new is perhaps an overstatement seeing that i've been working on it for 3-4 years, but it wasn't until recently that i realized that i needed to make it into a photobook.

hence, i signed up for an intensive 4.5 day bookmaking workshop with toscana photographic workshops (or tpw for short) taught by teun van der heijden and sandra van doelen of heijdens karwei. the workshop was limited to 4 participants, and seeing that there were two teachers and two assistents, it was pretty much a 1:1 situation. happy camper i was. the workshop took place in bologna in a room located in a private museum of sorts in the center of the city. we were surrounded by old italian paintings, which made for a beautiful bookmaking backdrop.

my project started off with the working title while we're waiting for the rain, but the book's final title is when the rains come (we will fear no more). first thing's first though, and the whole process started out with finding out exactly what is the story that i want to tell. i already knew that my story had the possibility to go in many directions, but i am not a photo journalist nor am i a reportage photographer, so going into the workshop i had a distinct feeling that i was looking towards a more poetic style (thanks to mette frandsen for helping me realize this). am i getting ahead of myself? - i think i am.

the story: my mother is a big game hunter; a passion that has evolved in later years, and the project “when the rains come (we will fear no more)” began, without being aware of it at the time, when she back in 2012 one day asked me, ‘do you want to go with me to zimbabwe to hunt?”

but what then is the focus of the story? - hunting, killing, my mum, girl power, poaching, animals, nature, africa? you see, many possibilities - and following all of them would make for a rather confused book. the project is not a project about big game hunting as such. it is above all a project about my mother and about finding oneself, about strong women challenging themselves and their boundaries, and about never stopping to grow as a person. i have seen my mother grow into a woman of tremendous format and courage, a person I can admire and see myself in. a real inspiration to me, being somebody, who still can’t figure out who I am or where I belong. i know that hunting is a sensitive subject, but my motive and story is not one of provocation, but one of love and admiration for strong women and role models. my point being, my mum is a strong woman, who has taught me to follow my passion. the second thing i wanted to make a point of with my story is the, from my point of view, misunderstood nature of hunting. people, who do not hunt, seem to think it is all about the kill. but it is so much more. it is just as much about becoming one with nature, understanding nature. what's the name of this plant? what's the name of this flower? what animal leaves this track? do you think those clouds indicate the rains will come soon? it is about passion, it's about challenging yourself, and it's about getting to know yourself, because when all material things are stripped away and your mental and physical boundaries are tested, you get to know yourself really well. and how do you put all of this love into a book of pictures? that's what teun helped me clarify during the workshop. a couple of pointers from teun on editing:

  • your editing depends on what your outcome is going to be - is it magazine, newspaper, exhibition, book?
  • a photobook is like a slow film (visual novel) - sequence, tension building, screen play
  • senses / form / feeling - 3d photobooks play with the senses
  • build narrative layers (this was an eye opener for me) - when you build layers into your book, you often get an extra layer for free. meaning that readers will deduce their own narrative layer, which you had not necessarily intended or thought of at the time your book was made. this for me is key, because i myself love the feeling of getting it, when reading a photobook. whether i actually get it or not doesn't matter in the end, as long as a book can conjure that feeling.
"the speed and rhythm of a photobook is faster than a textbook but slower than a film" - teun van der heijden

the process: first selection of images was made, sequencing. second selection of images was made, sequencing. indesign set up - size of book was decided (which can depend on publishing - see below). diary text was scanned and added as a graphic element, diary text was added in the back of the book. handwritten text with names of plants and flowers were added to pictures. french title page, title page, spine text (this is probably the most time consuming, complicated thing to do!!), and then of course one has to consider the number of signatures (=sections) the books needs. the size of the book and the number of signatures is where the maths come in. let's see:

a printing sheet in offset printing is normally 70x100 cm. that means you get 16 pages of 24x34cm (8 pages on recto, 8 pages on verso). then if you make your pages smaller within the size of 17x24cm), you can get 32 pages on one printing sheet. if your pages are even smaller than that, you get more pages on one printing sheet. hence, if you are to publish your book, it may be a good thing to keep in mind, as the price increases every time you have more printing sheets.

click on the image to see full size

however, i was not at this point going to a publisher to have it printed, but when you set up your files in indesign, you still have to be aware of your signatures, as they should be dividable with 8 for booklet printing purposes.

in the end, i came away with a first dummy of my book that i am very satisfied with. i love that it has a handmade, sort of rough feel to it. i hand-stitched the 7 signatures together (took me 2 hours) and then it was glued to make it more stable. lastly, the cover was added and the book was cut. you will understand the cover, when you look at the last picture in the book. i give all credit of this fantastic cover idea to teun :)

i hope you like it!

culmination of artist residency at 3331 ARTS CHIYODA

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tokyo, japan

it's been a couple of weeks since my last post and obviously many things have happened since. time flies here, and i just cannot quite keep up.

yesterday was the opening of my photography exhibition 'search for me in plain sight' at the 3331 nishikicho studio in jinbocho. there was quite a good turn-out of people that i have gotten to know during my last 2 months in tokyo, as well as old friends, so i was very happy about that. it was fun to have them come by for a chat and a drink. i always feel very humbled, when people want to show up to support me. so thank you all very much! (if you want to read more about the exhibition straight away, you should scroll down a little.)

it is weird with this culmination of a 4 weeks residency, i feel happy and excited at what i have managed to produce, but at the same time it feels sad that it is over. on sunday the 5th, when the exhibition closes, i'll move to harajuku to stay at my friend's house for a week before heading back to denmark for a couple of weeks. after that a new chapter begins in itoshima, fukuoka at studio kura (read more about itoshima here). 

now let me tell you a little bit about the last 2 weeks. since the last post i managed to have a couple of more photo shoots, and although it almost started raining a couple of times, i never really managed to time it with a photo shoot. hence, no rain pictures. that's okay though. it's also fun, when things don't go exactly as planned and you have to think and produce on the spot (which, yes, did happen a few times).

open studio - on friday the 26th, we had an open studio night at the 3331 nishikicho studio. since the 3331 nishikicho studio is quite a new part of Arts Chiyoda, it was like a house warming party, where 3331 had invited many people to see the studio and the residency (where i'm living) on the floor above it. at the open studio night, i showed my works in progress and portfolio, as part of the event. it was a great night with many people showing up as well. afterwards we - some of the 3331 staff and the other residents - went out for dinner and drinks. great bunch of people, the other residents who included hakan topal, jying tan, gustavo giacosa, jean-maxime dufrensne & virginie laganiere and of course our 3331 contact lana tran, who is just a star! 

note magazine - while i've been doing my photography project, i have also been writing a personal essay on tokyo for the danish fashion magazine note. the essay will be printed in the august issue and along with it, i'm happy to announce, will be some of the photographs i've been doing while at the residency. more to come on this. 

Tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen? - i'm still working on my hand made book!!! i'm producing more dummies before i leave tokyo, so that i can participate in more dummy competitions. and hopefully as i do it more and more, the dummies will improve in quality. i've found a japanese silk screen printer, who can do my title pages on the silver paper (if you remember, i've had some issues with printing on the silver mirror like paper, but hopefully it will be resolved now).  it is still a lot of fun to do things with your hands, and book making is just an absolute joy. again, i need to underline this, the options are endless, so give those 'normal' books a rest :) 

printing - since i've been editing the pictures for the current exhibition continuously since the shooting started, once i had a the majority of the picture that i wanted to exhibit, i sent them off to be printed. i copenhagen, like probably most other places, having A1 and A0 size art prints made costs quite the fortune, as does it take time to get them produced. well, yumi from reminders photography stronghold showed me a printing company in akita prefecture (zoomland - in japanese only) that will print and you'll receive to your door the following business day. naturally, you give away your possibility to color check, and if something is not okay, you'll have to start over, but the service is fast, reliable, and the quality is actually pretty genuine. moreover, it is cheap. all in all, i had 9 A1s and 2 A0s printed at the total cost of 13,000 yen (700 dkk equivalent). that is including 'to the door'-delivery people! and as i said the quality is not bad! i'm impressed anyway. 

exhibition - 'search for me in plain sight'  is my reaction to tokyo and the massive population living and working in the city. i've always been interested in the moments of quietness you have, when you think that nobody is looking at you. while you can take these pictures as a street photographer, i think it is also interesting to remake these moments in staged photography, so that is what i set out to do in tokyo during the residency.

in tokyo, the intime sphere needs to be very tight due to the population size. what i mean by that, is that standing close together side by side, face to armpit in the trains during rushhour doesn't leave a lot of personal space. hence, in tokyo there seems to be a special ability to find a mental space, where you are completely alone and do not register people around you. and in tokyo that boundary is drawn much later than any other place i've experienced. i have seen this on the trains and in the streets, when people are by themselves they do not register the world around them unless the world comes straight into their faces. it is a very interesting phenomenon to witness, and this is one of the themes i have been working with in my images. moreover, i like to work with the state of being alone, because being alone does not always equal loneliness. rather being alone can be a choice and seeing a person that looks lonely doesn't mean that s/he is. that is a subjective interpretation of the viewer. however, on the other side, in tokyo there is a serious problem with lonely people, and the exhibition 'search for me in plain sight' is also a comment to not ignore the people, who are right in front of your eyes. 

the exhibition is up from july 1st to july 5th (opening hours 2nd-3rd 11:00-17:00, 4th-5th 11:00-15:00) at 3331 nishikicho studio in jinbocho - 2nd floor.




tokyo series 'search for me in plain sight'

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tokyo, japan

a little more than one week into my residency and it is going great so far. i went location hunting last week in the middle of the night to find the best lit spots in tokyo. this week, i have my first round of shoots set up. just to recap i was anticipating several issue or potential problems i could experience with my photoshoots. however, there really has not been any so far.

  • no problem getting models - 3331 arts chiyoda sent out an open call for models on facebook and other social media, and it was answered. so many replied that they had to close it again within 10 minutes. what a wonderful surprise!
  • we've had no language problems - lana from 3331 is accompanying me on the shoots and translates for me, when needed.
  • no weather problems (yet) - i've been shooting monday and tuesday night this week, and there has been no rain. and now comes the tricky bit, because i wouldn't mind a rainy shot. so where's the bloody rain..

now i'm just hoping that the printing goes well, when the time comes. i still have a couple of shoots this week, but i think a have some good material thus far. 

on a personal note, i'm still floating on a cloud here. 

since my location scouting and shooting has been at night, i've had most days to do everyday things of course, but also just to hang out, read, drink coffee and do touristy things. i'm still in love with my new favorite coffee shop 'glitch', where they know me now, and we have a little chat, when i get my coffee. also i've taken up a habit of going to the family mart (convenience store), when i return home at dusk, before heading out to shoot later, hot and sweaty from the heat, getting a cold beer and sitting outside the store reading. it's a nice little square with green plants and cafés around, so jazz music is in the air. 

last week i went to the danish embassy to cast my vote for today's election. exciting although i'm not really a political person, the fact that danish women received the right to vote 100 years ago this year, convinced me to go. i've also been writing an article/guide to tokyo for the danish fashion magazine 'note', which i think will be featured in their august edition (if it is good enough). i'm still working on my book dummy on the side as well, so all in all time is still flying pretty fast. i really cannot believe that i go home in less than a month.

vote well now denmark, and talk soon.

p.s. please feel free to give me some feedback on my work below.

my corner coffee shop 'glitch'

my corner coffee shop 'glitch'

my new neighborhood jinbocho

my new neighborhood jinbocho

new neighborhood

new neighborhood

meiji jingu iris garden in bloom

meiji jingu iris garden in bloom